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The Contender
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Amend the United States Constitution to allow naturalized US citizens to run for President

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/17/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,913 times Debate No: 15426
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (1)




The "Natural Born Clause" of the Constitution of the United States of America discriminates against naturalized US Citizens and is un-American.


All right TheFreeThinker, I accept your challenge. Lets go.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting the debate Brenavia, so here we go!

Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution sets forth the eligibility requirements for serving as President of the United States:

"No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States." [1]

United States citizenship, as defined by the United States Code, can be acquired either by Jus Solis - having being born within the United States or in U.S. territories -, by Jus Sanguinis, being born of at least one parent who was a United States Citizen at time of birth and has been "physically present in the U.S. before the child's birth for a total period of at least five years, and at least two of those five years were after the U.S. citizen parent's fourteenth birthday, or, for foreign born nationals, through the process of naturalization. [2]

The United States constitution does not define the meaning of "natural born", in particular it does not specify whether there is any distinction to be made between persons whose citizenship is based on jus sanguinis and those whose citizenship is based on jus soli. As a result the eligibility of several candidates for President of the United States including George Romney, Barry Goldwater and John McCain has been questioned.

Furthermore, the US Foreign Affairs Manual states that it has never been determined definitively by a court whether a person who acquired U.S. citizenship by birth abroad to U.S. citizens is a natural born citizen.

There is no doubt however, that under the current constitution, foreign born, naturalized American citizens are not eligible for the office of President of the United States.

Currently, there are over 12,000,000, or almost 4% of the US population, naturalized United States Citizens living in the United States, with an average of over 700,000 permanent residents becoming naturalized citizens each year.

Some famous naturalized US Citizens include former Governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, former US Senator Mel Martinez from Florida, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to name a few.

In order to become a US Citizen, a person is required to be a legal permanent resident of the United States for at least 5 - in some cases 3 - years, be a "person of good moral character", pass a test on United States history and government, have a working knowledge of the English language and take the following oath of allegiance:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

A naturalized US citizen has all the rights, privileges and duties of a natural born citizen, except for the right to run for President of the United States.
The current constitution therefore creates two classes of citizens, discriminates against foreign born citizens and denies them the full benefits of citizenship.

In order to understand why the Natural Born Clause is embedded in the United States Constitution, it's necessary to take a look at the geopolitical environment at the time it was first drafted.

In 1787 the United States was a new, fragile nation whose independence had been recognized by the British Empire just 3 years before.

On July 25th, 1787 John Jay, the future first Chief Justice of the United States wrote a letter to George Washington, who was presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention. Jay wrote:

"Permit me to hint whether it would not be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government, and to declare expressly that the Command in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen."

A few years before, in 1772 Austria, Prussia and Russia bribed Polished noblemen to elect a disloyal King who then partitioned Poland among them. It is very probable that the delegates of the Constitutional Convention were afraid the United States could share the same fate. It is interesting to note though that the language of the constitution allowed people who were not natural born citizens at the tame of the writing of the constitution to still be eligible for the office of President of the United States. This group included the first several presidents before Martin van Burren as well as Alexander Hamilton.

Unlike many other Constitutional provisions that were debated during the Constitutional Convention or analyzed in the Federalist Papers, very little written evidence exists regarding the addition of the natural born citizen requirement to the presidential eligibility clause.

What the founding fathers could not have predicted was the future development of the United States of America.
The US quickly became a new global power and the home of millions of immigrants from all over the world. In fact, no nation on earth has more diversity and acceptance for immigrants than the United States. The world has changed as well. We no longer have dukes and noblemen electing Kings that can decide to dissolve a Union, a Nation or a State and the electoral process today is much more thorough than it has been in the past. The media plays a huge role in today's politics and every candidate is scrutinized very closely by the press and the public.

The assumption that a naturalized citizen would be less loyal to the United States than a natural born citizen is fallacious, and preventing an american citizen to run for the highest office in the country based on his or her national origin is discriminatory. I would also like to add than a natural born citizen just happened to be born within the United States, weather a naturalized citizen becomes a citizen by choice.

The founding fathers could have not foreseen the development of the United States as a nation of immigrants, nor the contributions that immigrants made to the United States. However, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times."

In the spirit of this idea I am in favor of amending the Constitution to the United States of America to make naturalized citizens of the United States of America eligible for the office of President.



I see where your coming from. This sounds like a good idea, to let all citizens of America have the ability to become President, but there are reason why the President cannot be a naturalized citizen.

Contention 1: Loyalty
The Natural Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago found that Americans are the worlds most patriotic people. Gallup found that 1/3 of all Americans are extremely patriotic. These articles are not refering to naturalized citizens, or else they would have stated this.
Why is loyalty an issue for becoming President? Well, it is a very important factor when relating to foreign affairs. says that out of all the duties of the President, Chief Diplomat and Commander-in-chief are some of them. What if a naturalized citizen, say from Mexico, runs as President and wins the race. And then, Mexico decides to declare war on another one of our allies, say a more important one to us. Who would the President side with? Would he or she decide to fight with the more important one, or with the Mexicans? If he or she sides with the Mexican Government, this action could be seen as biased. Now, whether or not it was, this could greatly reduce that President's leadership and America's hegemony over the world. With only naturally born citizens being allowed to run for President, this eliminates this problem all together, thus ensuring America remains the superpower it is today. You cannot simply trust that a person's loyalty can be changed by saying :
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen". Thats to great of a change for many to take this step, and many could easily say this simply to get into the U.S. It is not discrimination, its survival.

This loyalty issue seems to be your biggest point. However hard you try, it is not easy to change loyalities so easily, especially when family and friends may live in the county that the person left. If they want to run for President, allow them to be 'annexed', just like what America did with Hawaii in the 1800's. If they want to become President, the first step would be to become a U.S. territory, similar to Puerto Rico. Then, after a few generations, most of the population of the territory would feel loyal to the U.S. simply because the fly the flag of the U.S. After this, these territories can become states, just like what Hawaii and Alasksa. Through this process, the people of the Earth can run for President of the United States, and America would not be at any threat. Not only would this give them more freedoms, but American Hegemony would be spread. This is the best option availible. By only allowing an individual, not a territory, to shift loyalities. It becomes increasingly difficult to discover where their true loyalties lie.

Debate Round No. 2


Brenavia builds his argumentation against allowing naturalized citizens of the United States to become eligible to run for the office of President on the assumption that loyalty to one country is driven by the place of birth.

I believe this is a fallacious and discriminatory assumption and will explain why shortly.

To sustain his argumentation Brenavia quotes a study by The Natural Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago which states that found "Americans are the worlds most patriotic people" and " that 1/3 of all Americans are extremely patriotic"

Brenavia then erroneously comes to the conclusion that "These articles are not refering to naturalized citizens, or else they would have stated this.

There is no proof whatsoever that the article is referring to natural born citizens exclusively, and is important to note that naturalized americans are just as american as natural born citizens.

Furthermore naturalized citizen are viewed by many as extremely patriotic, since they had to actively seek US Citizenship and were not just merely born with the privilege. [1]

The question of loyalty is a very important one, however the assumption that a natural born citizen is by default loyal, and a naturalized is not, is wrong.

Under the current Constitution, a Citizen who is born in the United States but moves to another country as a baby and grows up there could return to the US at age 50 for example, and being eligible to run for President at age 64.
On the other hand though, somebody who is born in a different country and moves to the US as an infant, who grows up in the US and for whom the US is the only home he has ever known, is not eligible to run for President.
This includes babies born abroad who are adopted by american parents.

There are plenty of example throughout the History of the United States that show that loyalty is not guaranteed by birth.
Jefferson Devies, the President of the Confederate States of America, who led the South in the rebellion against the Union, was a natural born US citizen.

Abu Ibrahim Amriki and Anwar al-Awlaki, two Islamic terrorists who are responsible for attacks against the United States are both natural born United States Citizens.

Harvey Lee Oswald, who deflected to the Soviet Union and came back to the US to assassinate President Kennedy was a natural born US Citizen.

Naturalized citizens however have collectively received more than 700 medals of honor and make up a large percentage of the United States armed forces.

The assumption that a naturalized President wouldn't be able to remain impartial in matters of foreign affairs while a natural born would is false.
Many Presidents have spent time overseas. President Eisenhower was a dual US and German citizen. President Obama spent large parts of his life in Indonesia.
A natural born President could be equally subject to the same bias, could have more friends and family in a different country than a naturalized citizen.

Brenavia also argues that people born on US territories are loyal simply because "the fly the flag of the U.S", which is not necessarily through, since Puerto Rico, but even Alaska and Vermont have organized secessionist parties.

Furthermore, allowing a naturalized citizen to run for President doesn't make this person automatically President. The candidate would still have to go through the electoral process, where his loyalty can be tested by the people of the United States who will have then to decide weather to trust this person with the Presidency.

The natural born clause is an outdated, illogical part of the Constitution that should be revised to give all americans equal rights.



First off, you're claiming that I am making a discriminatory assumption. Not only is this flase, but I believe your position is biased. If you truly believe that naturalized citizens should be able to run for President, fine, but dont call me discriminatory.

Secondly, when poll makers take into account public opinion, many factors take place. The National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago did the survey to find out how patriotic Americans were. They found that 1/3 of Americans were extremly patriotic. Do you know how many people that is? Thats 102,335,517 people. Do you know how many naturalized citizens are in the U.S.? 16,200,000 people. The odds are slightly, and when I say slightly I mena more than 6 times the number, in favor of naturally born U.S. citizens who are extremely patriotic compared to naturalized citizens being extremly patriotic. So, is the NORCUC refering to naturalized citizens or everyday citizens? Logically and numerically, they are polling natural born citizens. Im sure that naturalized citizens took place in the vote, but proportionally they dont have the numbers to make that big of a difference. Now, Im not saying that naturalized citizens are not patriotic, Im sure there are many exceptions, all Im saying is that loyalty is th biggest issue when relating to naturalization, and being patriotic relates back to loyalty. If the odds are that skewed, then America better take the safest way out.

Thirdly, activley seeking citizenship does not mean they are patriotic. 4 of the 15 terrorist involved in 9/11 sought out citizenship and recieved it. Though this does not set the staus quo, it is a good example that seeking citizenship does not mean that you are patriotic to America.

Fourthly, you did bring up a good point about returning to the U.S. at 50 and running for President at 64. This is obviously a problem with our Constituition according the the way you wrote it. I agree with you, it is a problem, but the solution is not amend the Constitution to allow naturalized citizens to run for President. As I have proven before, this is dangerous to America, though it is a small threat. The best solution for this problem? Amend the Constitution to not allow those who have not lived in the U.S. for the majority of his or her life to run for President. Not only does this continue to protect America, but it keeps a person who would know next to nothing about life in the U.S. to run the country as it's head. I agree with you, but I have a better solution.

Fifthly, I also agree with you that loyalty is not garunteed by birth, but it has a strong influence on it. Jefferson DAVIS (not devies lol) was influenced by the area around him, sure, but by being born in the South he had a strong belief in the ideals of his homeland. The same is true of naturalized citizens. Sure, they are influenced by the area around them, I.E. the U.S., but they have a strong pull and influence to follow the ideals of their homeland. Your example is not a good one, but it works to prove my point.

Sixthly, sure there are home-grown terrorists, as you mentioned Abu Ibrahim Amriki and Anwar al-Awlaki, but this is not the staus quo. All of the terrorists involved in 9/11 were born outside of the U.S., and four of them gained citizenship. This is arguable the worst terrorist attack in America's history. Who inititaited this attack? 11 people with visas, 4 with citizenship. Sure, there are home-grown terrorists, but they are causing less terror, less loss of life, and less destruction than naturalized, AKA the 4 terrorists, citizens.

Seventhly, the armed forces argument you used is false. Do you have the source that says naturalized citizens make up a majority of our Armed Forces. Unfortunatly, we are left to assume you made this up. Voters , dont allow him to do this.

Eighthly, a President being overseas does NOT represent his judement when relating to foreign affairs. You did not list a source saying that Eisenhower was a dual U.S. and German citizen, and I could not find the source proving this point. So not only are we left assume you made this up, but in this example you stated that he was a DUAL citizen, not a naturalized citizen. As you stated before, naturalized citizens are required to state an oath renouncing their allegience to any foreign power. This only applies to naturalization, not dual citizenship. Not only are you using points that make no sense and are not relavent to this subject, but you still arent able to back up your claims. Voters, do not allow my opponennt to continue to do this. Also, Obama, though he did spend large portions of his life in Indonesia, he still spent a majority of his life in the U.S., or U.S. territories. This supports my claim in my 4th point, that those who have not lived in the U.S. the majority of their lives should not become President. He, according to my solution, was still able to run for President as a U.S. citizen. Also, though a natural citizen may have family in another country, as I have proven before, the place of birth has a great influence on your ideals, and this President would not be likely to be biased.

Ninthly, are you saying that the citizens of Alaska and Vermont should not be allowed to run for President on the simple fact that they have secessionist parties? This is not a good idea to support this. Americans are allowed by first amendement to freedom of speech and assembly, which the parties are excersing this right. The tranistion of foreign power, to territory, to state would still have these groups, though, as I proved in my 2nd speech, the people's loyalities would dramatically shift towards the United States.

Tenthly, I am not saying the allowing a naturalized citizen to run automatically puts them in office. However, if a naturalized citizen does get elected into office, it would not be in the best intrest of the U.S. as I have proven before.

In conclusion, vote Con. Not only does my opponent have a problem with not citing sources, but he has a problem of not backing his points up with good analytical arguments. I believe that naturalized citizens should not be allowed to run for President for all the reasons stated in my speeches.

Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheFreeThinker 5 years ago
I don't have any anger or resentment.
Debating is a hobby and losing a round is part of the game.
It is a fact though that the guy who voted is on your friendslist and he change his vote from 3 to 1 to 1 to 3 as well as his comment. If you are implying that he did that on his own without any input from you, I'm sorry but I don't buy that. Especially because of the comment he had written.
I didn't ask any of my friends to vote because those would be biase votes and I don't want them.
I could have also jus voted for myself during the last minute and wo the debate, but I don't play like this!

Hopefully we will have another debate without those issues in tue future.
Posted by Brenavia 5 years ago
Maybe you should have encouraged your friends to vote, though I doubt they would agree with you. Besides, just because he's on my friend's list does not mean he votes for me. In fact, he has voted me down before so please, drop the issue. You lost, I won, it was an enjoyable debate. Please put all anger and resentment aside when I say this: Thank you for the debate. It was a good one and opened my eyes to the beliefs of a different point of view, even though I don't agree with that view. You got your point across, and isn't that more important than winning a simple online debate. Really, it's not that big of a deal, and you fufilled your purpose of getting your message across. So please, don't blow this out of proportion, and I hope that I have the pleasure of debating you again.

Posted by TheFreeThinker 5 years ago
It is also funny that the only person who voted, who originally gave me a two points lead and who later changed his vote and comment, is on your friendslist!
Well done
Posted by Brenavia 5 years ago
i did not use a new argument, i simply refuted yours. Please identify what im doing before you start attacking me.
Posted by TheFreeThinker 5 years ago
Brenavia, you can't use the last round of the debate to introduce a new argument, especially a misleading one. It's not fair and deceptive.
Thanks for the tip on wiki though, I'll post different sources in the future.

Did the voter switch his points?
Posted by Thaddeus 5 years ago
Making new arguments in the last round of the debate is also poor form.
Wikipedia is as legitimate as the sources it is comprised of. Which are typically just as valid as any source you used.
Posted by Brenavia 5 years ago
I hope you also realize that what you just did was illegal in debate. Giving a speech after the debate is over? C'mon, I assumed you were better than that. Also, Wikipedia is not a legitimate source, if you want to prove your point, use a better one. i dont care if Eisenhower was a German Citizen under German Law, that was an example of Dual Citizenship, not naturalization. Please, in the future, try to stick to the topic. Dont appeal to the voters like this, let them decide for themselves.

All in all, I enjoyed this debate. I hope we have the pleasure of debating again!
Posted by TheFreeThinker 5 years ago
I would like to post a comment here to point out some attacks my opponent wrote in his last argument that are unfair and try to distort the debate:

1) NONE of the 911 terrorist was a US Citizen

2) I did not write naturalized citizens make up a MAJORITY, I wrote a large percentage.

Being born in a German family, Eisenhower had German Citizenship under German Law.

I think it's really unfair to distort what I wrote on the last round!
Hope the voters will realize it!
Posted by wolfhaines 5 years ago
I agree with Thaddeus.

In the most recent Australian election both of the major parties had leaders that were born in the UK, does that affect their ability to love Australia, or deliver results for Australia? Of course not.

Babies have no control over where they are born, but adults do have a choice in where they choose to live. Currently the USA values the choices of parents of the person wanting to run for office over the choices of the person actually running for office. Makes no sense in a system that has so many checks and balances that presidents can barely achieve much by themselves anyway.
Posted by Thaddeus 5 years ago
Patriotism is not a desirable quality. Loving your country because you believe its values are good, is one thing. Loving it because it is your country is stupid.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by boredinclass 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Con wins on sources and grammar, all arguments were pretty well-defended